Beaver Fever

Last week I was delighted to welcome the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to the Forest of Dean for the release of two Eurasian Beavers into their new home at Greathough Brook near Lydbrook.

It is hoped that the Beavers’ activity here in the Forest of Dean will improve biodiversity in their new 6.5 hectare home and may have the potential to reduce local flood risk. I know the Forestry Commission and their partners will conduct regular monitoring of the site and will assess the eco-system benefits. Deputy Surveyor Kevin Stannard and his team have already put in a lot of hard work and they have my full support.

The Brook itself is a short steep stream arising very near to my home in Newham Bottom and running through a narrow wooded valley before entering the village of Lydbrook and flowing through a series of culverts north into the River Wye.

Beavers are well known for their ability to fell trees, which they commonly use to dam shallow watercourses to create pools and make them feel safe.

As well as being welcome additions to the rich and varied selection of wildlife we have here in the Forest, these Beavers will play an important role in wetland ecology by creating eco-systems that provide habitats for many other plant, insect and mammal species. For this reason, they are often referred to as “eco-system engineers”!

Forestry Commission records show that Greathough Brook was once home to thriving populations of water vole, glow-worms and wood white and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies. These species depend on light warm conditions – conditions that can no longer be found with the decline in sheep grazing and shading from trees.

This is an exciting project which has received fantastic support from residents in the Lydbrook area, and it was great to see so many people at Greathough Brook last week to watch the Beavers settle in at their new home.

This project is an excellent example of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ commitment to enhancing biodiversity and is another step towards the Government’s aim of leaving the environment in a better state for future generations to enjoy.